It’s been a long time since the golden era of wrestling games and even longer since wrestling itself was something amazing. WWE 13 goes a long way to not only remind you of the good old days but recreate them in one of the best wrestling games since the Nintendo 64 days. I played more WWE 12 than was probably necessary and I see the same thing happening with WWE 13. While 12 did a lot of dealings with WCW themed content it was often called a total revamp for the franchise, feature expanded modes, improved graphics and better animations. While it did feature all of those things it really only felt like a half step forward and while it was definitely a better game than 2011 it still just didn’t push the boundaries of wrestling games.
This year all of that has changed. WWE 13 feels like the game that Yukes was trying to make last year and feels like the pinnacle of the Smackdown series. This year the focus is the Attitude Era of the WWE which was easily when wrestling was at its best. The Monday Night Wars were raging between WCW and some of the top superstars rose to fame during this time. Yukes has thrown out the old Road to Wrestlemania and replaced it with a mode that recreates memorable moments from this era of the WWE ad feels like the ultimate love letter to wrestling fans. Returning from previous games is the revamped Universe mode which is now bigger and better and more customizable than ever. With a more stable but still a little hitched online mode, WWE 13 is a jam packed package for wrestling fans.
Finally Yukes has made good on their animation upgrade promise from last year! WWE 13 features almost all new animations for almost every move in the game which gives the matches a more realistic flow that is closer to what you see on television. The overall gameplay here just feels better in every way. Better, however, doesn’t mean perfect. There are still some hiccups when performing moves where characters will totally misread their surroundings and run in the wrong direction from time to time but it felt a little rarer here. The hit detection is also greatly improved. One of my biggest problems with the last game was diving from the top rope onto an opponent laying on his stomach would result in you just sliding over then and face planting on the mat causing both of you damage. Well that is no more because now there are actually animations for landing on someone’s back. All of that is well and good but what I love best about the new animations is the referee now slides into the pin counts and gets them off quick instead of his slow duck and count as in the previous games.
One of the best parts of the gameplay is that the controls are identical to last year’s game. For a while there the Smackdown games were going through control changes every year but by the time 12 rolled around it really felt like they had gotten it down perfect and Yukes must have felt the same way because they didn’t change a thing. There are no features added to the controls however such as the ability to do rollup pins with the joystick and the new OMG! Moments, which is a terrible name for such a cool feature. The OMG! Moments are triggered when you have a stored finisher and throw your opponent into the turnbuckle, the outside barricade, or onto the announcer table. When you have done one of these things you can trigger your finisher to smash them through the announcer table with a signature move or charge through the barricade by tackling your opponent. If you have two super heavyweight characters, when your opponent is in the turnbuckle, you can use the OMG! Moment to suplex them off the top rope and cause the whole ring to collapse which is completely awesome and results in an automatic win.
The Attitude Era mode has replaced the old story mode and is easily the best story mode in any wrestling game to date. The story starts from the beginning of the Attitude Era and you play as different superstars from that time such as Shawn Michaels and Triple H during the Degeneration X days and Stone Cold Steve Austin during the McMahon feud. One thing that I loved about the story mode is that they ripped the audio right out of the old episodes so it actually sounds right when people should be talking in loud stadiums. That’s something the older games needed badly as the voice acting has always been terrible and just sounded like the wrestler was clearly I a sound booth instead of a jam packed stadium. However this does lead to some kind of ridiculous censored moments of the letter F or the word Federation being blanked out of old dialogue before the WWF became the WWE.
WWE owning all of the WCW rights and materials is the best thing to happen to WWE 13 because the story mode gives a very nostalgic and in-depth look at the Monday Night Wars complete with a ratings board load screen. While the Attitude Era is amazing to play through and worth checking out (as this is where you unlock about 90% of the games content) the new and improved Universe mode once again stole the show for me. Wrestling games have always had a lot of customization and WWE 13 takes it even farther. The custom arena options have been greatly expanded to stage and audience options, they have brought back custom championship title options, and the best part is that all of this can be brought into the Universe mode which also has some new customizable options. Universe mode still sets up the monthly show schedules that you can play through and have story lines but now there are branching story lines that pop up as a rare occurrence and instead of just being able to edit existing shows (such as changing Monday Night Raw to Monday Nitro) you can create all new daily shows and Pay Per Views. You can create multiple rosters and have a wrestling show every day of the week if you want. The Universe mode really is the best thing about WWE 13.
The online of this game, while still experience some lag issues, is more stable than previous attempts. I was actually able to have a lot of fun playing online but there were issues with trying to find matches sometimes because the serves lack some stability. The big highlight of the online features is the community creations menu. Here you can search and download creations made by other players or even upload your own. So if you’re like me and want all of your favorite TNA wrestlers and arenas in your game than the community has your back as there are some amazing creations in there made by fans who pay a lot of attention to detail.
Yukes really pulled out all of the stops this time around and WWE 13 looks much better than even 12 did. This game has managed to do a lot of great things by just managing the lighting which does a lot to make the audience look great which is always a challenge in games like this. The character models and animation quality alone is mesmerizing and I really felt like wrestling games have finally taken a few steps forward, especially in the looks department. There were some characters last year (like Brock Lesnar) that I thought looked nothing like their real life counterpart but this time around I never really saw that as an issue and with the largest roster of any wrestling game it still manages to make everyone look how they should and still just looks even better when they are fighting in the ring.
The worst thing I can say about WWE 13 is that there are some wrestlers coming in as DLC that are a big absence for people who actively watch wrestling on TV. Ryback and AJ Lee are two in particular that are coming in DLC that probably should have already been on the roster, but the roster is already huge so there shouldn’t be any problem waiting. With that aside, WWE 13 is probably one of the most addicting games of this year. There is so much content packed into this game and the Attitude Era and Universe mode are enough to keep you coming back over and over. I have a blast just constantly playing Universe mode and working in story lines and interrupting matches and finishing with title shots and the Pay Per View. The Universe mode also lets you reset this time around which was something that was desperately needed I WWE 12 as the Universe mode can get a little jumbled if you let it.
The Attitude Era mode was the most fun I have ever had playing through a wrestling game story mode and is worth multiple play throughs. There are also great video packages that accompany each scenario that give a little history to the people and events. The online mode this year is also a viable option because if you can get into some good connection matches it can be a lot of fun trying to hang with the big dogs because let me tell you from experience, those people are damn good!
Whether you “know your role” or want to “have a nice day” WWE 13 is easily the best wrestling game that Yukes has made and honestly I don’t think they need to keep doing this every year. WWE 13 is a great stopping place for this style of wrestling game and they should try something else because they have made their WWE masterpiece. This game is a must for any wrestling fan and the nostalgia factor is well represented and pays off in a big way. Take those Legends of Wrestlemania or other attempts at wrestling nostalgia and throw them away because WWE 13 is all you need “and that’s the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so.”